POCATELLO, Idaho - The plan to scrap the Hoku plant may become scrapped itself. A company out of Henderson, Nev., has made a verbal offer to purchase the buildings and complete the construction.
JCF Funding, LLC made the offer to a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Court July 24.
The company announced Thursday it will open a Pocatello office in an effort to prevent liquidation of the Hoku polysilicon plant. Former plant manager Ed Church and seven other employees are working with JCF. It would be called "The New-Pocatello Silica Company."
This is a big project with a lot of work to be done, but former plant manager Ed Church said this interested company has the financial backing ready to go.
The Hoku plant has been a source of debate in Pocatello since 2007, when former Mayor Roger Chase created the deal for Hoku to lease the land from the city for one dollar a year. That was to help the company get off the ground.
"But now we're at the end and they have no more money," said current Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad. "The project started out to be a $200 million project. They've now got $600 million into it. And they need at least another $100 million to finish it."
And JCF Funding, LLC of Nevada has the money to complete the project and get the factory going.
Once the factory is finished, that would add about 200 to 400 jobs once finished, and, according a press release, JCF Funding officials indicated they may not even stop at the Hoku plant. They are looking to build other plants, which would increase the total jobs brought to the area to 1,500 over the next two to three years.
Blad and Church say one of the plants would produce solar panels, which contain polysilicon – the materials the Hoku plant would make.
Church said he's done his research into JCF Funding, and says the main difference between Hoku and JCF is the money already being there.
"It's different than what we had with the Chinese, where the money was always coming," said Church. "With these guys, the money's already there. So my hope is the first part of September they make a decision, and then we can get the ball rolling again."
Church says he understands this has been a sore subject for some in Pocatello, and all he asks for is patience while they get this resolved.
"This is a legitimate company that has the funding to bring this plant on," Church said. "Hang in there with us. I know there's a lot of negativity, but this is a positive. I truly believe that."
This whole deal is still in the very early stages. JCF Funding hasn't even made the official written proposal yet. It will do that on Monday.
JCF Funding leaders stated in a press release they expect this plant to generate $367.8 million within the first two years of opening.
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